The Carrier of the Ansaar Standard
Sa'd Ibn Mu'aadh is hardly ever mentioned without Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah. Both were leaders of Al-Madiinah. Sa'd lbn Mu'aadh was the leader of Al-Aws tribe and Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah of Al Khazraj. Again, both were foremost in Islamic faith. They witnessed the Pledge of Al-'Aqabah and lived next to the Prophet (PBUH) as obedient and sincere believers and soldiers.
Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah held a special position among the Ansaar as he had his share of the abuse and torture Muslims were subjected to at the hands of the Quraish in Makkah. It was only natural that the Quraish would torture those who lived in Makkah, but to torture a man from Al-Madiinah was rather exceptional. `Ubaadah was not an ordinary man; he was a distinguished and influential leader. This was a privilege that was enjoyed only by Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah.
After the Pledge of Al-'Aqabah allegiance was concluded in secret and the Ansaar were getting ready to travel, the Quraish found out about the allegiance the Ansaar had given to the Prophet (PBUH). Their agreement with the Prophet (PBUH) allowed him to emigrate with his Companions to Al-Madiinah to flee the power of polytheism and darkness and seek sanctuary and support there.
At that point, the Quraish lost self-control, so they went on hunting those who pledged the Prophet. The disbelievers captured Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah, tied his hands to his neck with his saddle girths, and dragged him back to Makkah, where they beat and tortured him! How could this happen to Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah? He was the leader of Al-Madiinah who always helped anyone of the Quraish who needed help, protected their trade, and was hospitable to them whenever they visited Al-Madiinah. Those who captured and abused him surely did not know who he was. But even if they had known, would it have made any difference? They were the ones who tortured the elite of Makkah when they committed themselves to Islam, were they not? In those days, the Quraish were absolutely mad. They watched ignorance collapse under the pressure of Truth, so the only thing that they could do was to avenge themselves ruthlessly and heedlessly.
As we have already said, Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah was surrounded by disbelievers who battered and tortured him. Now, let us hear the story as told by Sa'd himself: By Allah, I was in such a terrible state in their mercy, when I saw a group of people from the Quraish approaching me. Among them there was this white man who looked as bright as daylight, so I said to myself, Well if there is someone among those people left with the least sense of compassion and mercy, then it must be this man. Unfortunately, as he came close to me, he raised his fist and punched me severely, so I said to myself that none of them is kind-hearted enough to come to my rescue. And there I was a prey in their hands as they dragged me when a man hurried to me and scolded me saying, "Fie on you! Doesn't anyone of the Quraish owe you a favor of good neighborliness?" I answered, "Yes, of course, I used to help Jubair Ibn Muta'm's traders and stand by them against those of my people who were unjust to them. I also gave aid to Al-Haarith Ibn Harb Ibn Umaiyah." Then the man urged me to shout their names and say they owe me the right of good neighborliness so I did. Then the man rushed to them and told them, "A man from Al-Khazraj is being beaten in the valley and he is calling out your names and saying that you owe him the right of good neighborliness." They asked him who I was, and as soon as he told them, they told him that everything I said was true and rushed to rescue me.
Sa'd left Makkah after this premature assault which made him realize the extent of brutality and savageness the Quraish were willing to exercise against unarmed people who called for good, truth, and peace. This assault sharpened his will, and he decided to do his utmost to help the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions.
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The Prophet (PBUH) emigrated to Al-Madiinah just after the Hijrah of his Companions. There, Sa'd put his fortune at the disposal of the Muhaajiruun. Sa'd was generous by nature and heredity, being the son of `Ubaadah Ibn Dulaim Ibn Haarithah, who was famous for his generosity in pagan times. Sa`d's generosity turned into a sign of his deep-rooted and solid faith.
Narrators commented upon his generosity and said, "The Prophet's houses were always full of food sent by Sa'd." They also said that a man from the Ansaar used to invite one, two, or even three Muhaajiruun over for meals, whereas Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah used to invite over 80 of Muhaajiruun.
Solely for this, Sa'd always implored Allah to bestow him with more of His good provision and used to invoke, "O Allah, little provision does not suffice me to be righteous or to act righteously." Therefore, it was justifiable for the Prophet (PBUH) to supplicate saying, "O Lord, bring Your blessings and mercy on the family of Sa'd lbn `Ubaadah."
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Sa'd directed not only his fortune to the service of Islam, the straight and right religion, but also his energy and skills. He was a skilled marksman. He showed singular spirit of self-sacrifice during the battles under the Prophet's command (PBUH). Ibn `Abbaas said about him (May Allah be pleased with them both), "The Prophet (PBUH) used only two standards each time he was at war: the Muhaajiruun's flag with `Aliy Ibn Abiy Taalib and the Ansaar's flag with Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah.
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It seemed that his characteristic strictness was part of his strong personality. He was stem in upholding what was right or what he believed to be his right. If he was convinced about a certain matter, he would rise to make it known in public in an unwavering outspokenness and uncompromising firmness. This strictness, or should we say this extremism, was the reason behind many of his viewpoints which were called into question.
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For instance, on the Day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (PBUH) assigned him to lead an army battalion. Hardly had he reached the outskirts of Makkah, the sacred town, when he shouted, "Today is the day of fierce battle. Today is the day of transgression." `Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab heard his threat and hurried to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, " Messenger of Allah, listen to what Sa'd just said. . . He should not be entrusted with the command of the battalion that will attack the Quraish." The Prophet (PBUH) gave his assent and ordered `Umar to catch up with him and take his place in the command.
It seems that when Sa'd saw Makkah in a state of surrender and helplessness, he saw flashbacks of the abuse and torture that the believers and he himself had suffered at one time at the hands of disbelievers. He recalled all the wars they had waged against the Muslims who called for monotheism just because they believed that there is no god but Allah. His stern nature made him rejoice at the Quraish's calamity and vow revenge.
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This sternness or extremism that was characteristic of Sa'd made him take his famous attitude on the Day of As-Saqiifah. After the Prophet (PBUH) died, a group of the Ansaar met Sa'd at Bani Saa'adah's shaded meeting place to tell him that the Prophet's caliph must be one of the Ansaar, as the caliphate was an honor in this world and in the next; therefore they craved to win that honor. But the Prophet (PBUH) had already chosen his caliph when he asked Abu Bakr to take his place as Imam (prayer leader) while he was sick. His Companions saw this and other special qualities enjoyed by Abu Bakr - for instance, he was the second of the two in the cave - as a sign for his right to the caliphate.
On the one hand, `Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab, along with his companions, took the side of Abu Bakr and held fast to their opinion. On the other hand, Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah, along with his companions took the other side and held fast to it. This angered many of the Prophet's Companions who held Ibn `Ubaadah responsible for such a dispute.
However, Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah was only being himself when he held fast to his viewpoint, for as we have already said, he always held tenaciously to his convictions and insisted on being outspoken and precise concerning exactly where he stood. This feature came out clearly at the Battle of Hunain before the Prophet himself. When the Muslims were victorious in battle, the Prophet (PBUH) always distributed the spoils of war among all the Muslims, yet on that particular day, he took special care of those whose hearts Allah had joined, namely, the elite who had committed themselves to Islam a short time before, so as to help them discipline themselves by this privilege. He did not give anything to the Muslims in whom Islam was deeply rooted, as he thought that their Islam sufficed them. He gave to the warriors who were in need. The Prophet's mere bounty was an honor most people competed for. The war booty became an important source of revenue on which the Muslims lived. Therefore, the Ansaar bitterly wondered what made the Prophet deprive them of the booty.
Hassan Ibn Thaabit, the poet of the Ansaar, recited lines of poetry that mean: Go to the Prophet and say you are the best among all human beings. Why should you invite Sulaim tribe to take a share of war spoils although they are mere Muhaajiruun while you deprived the Ansaar who gave shelter, support and help to Muhaajiruun. Allah called them the Ansaar because they believed in and supported the religion of guidance in the time of fierce struggle and war. They rushed to strive in the way of Allah and endured difficulties and hardships without getting weary or losing faith.
In those lines, the poet of the Prophet and the Ansaar expressed quite eloquently the embarrassment and disappointment the Anaar felt when the Prophet gave his Companions the spoils of war and did not give them anything.
The leader of the Ansaar, Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah, realized the dilemma they were in, as he heard people talk about it secretly. This did not appeal to him, so urged by his candor, he went immediately to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, this group of the Anaar are displeased with what you did with the spoils of war. You have distributed war booty among your people and were most generous to the Arab tribes, but you did not give the Ansaar anything."
Thus, the frank man got it off his chest and gave the Prophet a candid account of the situation. The Prophet (PBUH) asked him, "What is your opinion about it?" Sa'd answered with the same bluntness, "I have the same viewpoint as my people." Then the Prophet (PBUH) asked him to gather the Ansaar. We must narrate the story to its very end as it is irresistibly fascinating.
When the Prophet (PBUH) came where the Ansaar gathered, he looked at their disgruntled faces, and his smile brightened with gratitude and appreciation. Then he said, "O Ansaar, I heard that an incident that happened recently made you feel ill at ease. Now, didn't I find you ignorant and guided you to the way of Allah. Didn't I find you poor and Allah enriched you of His bounty? And didn't I find you enemies and Allah joined your hearts together?"
They answered, "Indeed, Allah and His Prophet are far more generous and better."
The Prophet then said, "Don't you have anything to say?"
They answered, "There is nothing to be said but that Allah and His Prophet have the grace and bounty."
The Prophet (PBUH) then said, "By Allah, you could have justly said, We believed in you at a time when all called you a liar. We supported you at a time when you were frustrated. We gave you our money at a time when you were poor and we even sheltered you at a time when you were homeless. O Ansaar, are you upset for a thing so trivial and worldly that I gave to some people so as to join their hearts to Islam and left you out of it, believing that your Islam sufficed you? Is it not enough for you that the rest of the people will go home with a sheep or a camel, whereas you will return accompanied by the Prophet's love and appreciation? By Allah, if I were not one of the Muhaajiruun I would rather be one of the Ansaar, and if people moved in different ways, I would choose the way taken by the Ansaar. Allah, do have mercy on the Ansaar, their children, and their children's children."
By the time the Prophet (PBUH) concluded his words, their beards were wet with tears, for the words of the great Prophet filled their hearts with tranquility and enriched their souls. All of them including Sa'd cried out, "It is enough for us to have the Prophet's love as our reward."
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In the first days of `Umar's caliphate, Sa'd went to the Commander of the Faithful and said with his extreme candor, "By Allah, we prefer your companion Abu Bakr over you. By Allah, I cannot stand to live near you." `Umar calmly answered, "Anyone who hates his company should seek a better one elsewhere." Sa'd said, "I will indeed seek better company somewhere else."
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Sa'd words to `Umar were not an expression of hate or spite, for the man who was satisfied with the Prophet's love as his reward cannot possibly deny loyalty to such a man as `Umar, whom the Prophet (PBUH) had always cherished and honored. It was just that Sa'd Ibn `Ubaadah did not want to wait around for some event to come up and result in an inevitable dispute between him and the Commander of the Faithful `Umar Ibn Al- Khattaab, a thing he did not want or accept. Sa'd was one of the Companions whom the Qur'aan described as "merciful among themselves." He traveled to Syria. Shortly after he had settled in the Hauran plateau, he died and went back to the Lord the Most Merciful.